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Child-companion animal attachment bonds in single and two-parent families

By W. Bodsworth, G. J. Coleman

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This study addressed the issue of whether children who potentially have reduced access to parental resources have a stronger attachment bond with a dog, compared with children who have greater access. The study compared children in single-parent families with those in two-parent families on level of attachment to their family dog. Parents judged children's level of attachment to dogs by completing the Companion Animal Bonding Scale. The children's ages ranged between three and twelve years. Overall, children in single-parent families did show significantly higher levels of attachment to dogs than children in two-parent families. A comparison of attachment to dogs across family type showed that children in the early childhood stage in single-parent families had significantly higher levels of bonding with dogs than children in the early childhood stage in two-parent families. For the middle childhood stage there was no significant difference between family type and attachment to dogs. Comparisons within family type showed mixed results, and there were no significant gender differences in attachment levels across family type. Findings are discussed in light of attachment theory, family systems theory and implications for child development.

Date 2001
Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 14
Issue 4
Pages 216-223
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/089279301786999391
Language English
Author Address Department of Psychology, Monash University, Caulfield, Victoria, 3145, Australia.grahame.coleman@med.monash.edu.au
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Age
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Anthrozoology
  4. Attachment behavior
  5. Bonds
  6. Child development
  7. Children
  8. Dogs
  9. Emotions
  10. Human-animal relationships
  11. Human behavior
  12. Mammals
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. Pets and companion animals
  15. Primates
  16. sex differences
  1. peer-reviewed